Government can no longer command a majority in the House of Commons.
Two votes in 24 hours have demonstrated that the government has lost control of the House of Commons in the critical run up to a meaningful vote on the only deal on the table for leaving the European Union. Yesterday the Commons voted by 303 to 296 to limit the government’s tax administration powers in the event of no deal. Today they voted to require the PM to come back with a new deal within three days if the current deal is voted down.
In years gone by this would have meant the collapse of the government and a general election. Since the introduction of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act however the lame duck government can limp on, incapable of passing important legislation, until a formal motion of no confidence is passed.
The Labour Party has indicated that they plan to table such a vote if, as is likely, the Government loses the meaningful vote on May’s Brexit deal.
What can we probably expect?
- May will almost certainly lose the vote. She could even put her own neck on the block threatening to resign is she loses.
- May or her deputy, in the event she goes, will have no chance at all of getting the EU agree to a different deal within three days
- With 70 days before Britain is set to leave the EU there will be no deal and no prospect of one.
- Parliament may spend some of that time discussing alternatives before concluding that there is no majority for any plan.
- There are then just three alternatives:
- We leave without a deal on March 29.
- There’s a general election – this may be enough to persuade the 27 EU countries to delay Article 50 but no guarantee that they we will – so no deal exit on March 29
- There’s a 2nd referendum. This may be enough to get Article 50 extended but no guaranteed that parliament will allow it.
What can we definitely expect?
- More chaos.